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Review of The Handbook of Technology and Second Language Teaching and Learning

Ciara R. Wigham
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Carol A. Chapelle, Shannon Sauro (Éds.), The Handbook of Technology and Second Language Teaching and Learning, Oxford, UK¸ Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-118-91403-8, 503 pages, 90 €

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1. Overview of the Handbook

1The Handbook of Technology and Second Language Teaching and Learning, edited by Carol A. Chapelle, Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University (US) and Shannon Sauro, previously Associate Professor in the Department of Culture, Languages and Media at Malmö University (Sweden) and currently working at the University of Maryland (US), is a major contribution to Applied Linguistics literature offering an in-depth synthesis of the dynamic practices and research in the area of technology-enhanced language teaching and learning.

2The Handbook aims to communicate "the shape and texture of the technology-rich environments that language learners inhabit today" (page 1) whilst demonstrating that "technology has added multifaceted new dimensions to teaching and learning" (page 1). The reference work is addressed to learners, teachers, material developers, and researchers with little professional knowledge of how technologies are transforming language learning and teaching practices but who recognise that technology has "affected their potential for access to more and more of their language interests" (page 2).

3The contributions are organised in a four-part architecture focusing on language teaching and learning through technology, innovation at the technology-pedagogy interface, technology for L2 assessment, and research and development of technology for language learning. The exercise of reviewing the Handbook was itself difficult as it would be rare to read a thirty-chapter reference work in such a linear fashion. However, the Handbook is particularly reader-friendly: most chapters firstly focus on the description of a theory or approach and its history and follow this with an examination of key concepts in the area, a summary of seminal research frequently illustrated through case studies, and a discussion of the future perspectives, often accompanied by a proposed future research agenda. This consistency in style makes the Handbook well-suited for its intended readers. Indeed, all chapters are appropriate to serve as key readings for selected topics and the extensive index of key concepts, as well as authors cited, provides an essential road map to direct the reader to further information on each of the specific topics. It is, thus, difficult in this review to do justice to all aspects of the volume, given the range and diversity of the Handbook as a whole and the depth that each contribution offers. For this reason, the following review adopts an annotated bibliography-like structure: each contribution is summarised before offering general remarks on the volume as a whole.

2. Setting the stage

4Following a two-part introduction in which the editors present the objectives and organisation of the Handbook, Sue Otto invites readers on a journey that documents technology's use in language learning from 1918 to the early 21st century. Organised chronologically, referring to a wide-range of initiatives and programmes, and systematically making the links to different teaching approaches, Otto demonstrates how technology has both intersected with and served in the evolution of teaching and learning practices whilst also explaining why the capabilities of technologies and development tools at certain times forced CALL practitioners to lapse back into older language teaching approaches and potentially impeded a broader acceptance of CALL. Although Otto demonstrates technology's shift from an ancillary to central role, she insists that the "basic media used in language instruction (…) have remained constant over time, although the technologies that delivered them have not" (page 10). Otto advocates for a more central focus on language learning and teaching methods and goals rather than the technologies used to realise them, underlining that as each new technology appears, the process of evaluating and refining the rationale and methods for adopting it essentially resolve around the key issues, underlined by Clark in 1918, of quality of materials, teacher engagement and training, suitability with instructional goals, and pedagogical principles. Otto's historical overview is undoubtedly essential introductory reading for any higher education course in Technology-Enhanced Language Learning (TELL). It offers a backdrop for the four Handbook sections, reminding readers that new technologies rarely replace the old but rather offer more options for users.

3. Language teaching and learning through technology

5The first section of the Handbook, "Language teaching and learning through technology", examines the ways in which technologies have been integrated into the teaching and learning of different language abilities and their roles for language development. Seven chapters focus on grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, listening, speaking, pragmatics, and intercultural competence.

3.1. L2 grammar

6Trude Heift and Nina Vyatkina describe four CALL environments for L2 grammar: tutorial CALL, intelligent CALL, data-driven learning (DDL), and computer-mediated communication, situating each within different pedagogical approaches and underlining their distinct affordances. As readers will later come to recognise throughout the Handbook, the chapter offers a nice balance between practice and theory: each environment is situated within different pedagogical approaches and exemplified but also discussed in light of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theoretical perspectives and research studies focusing on learner feedback and, for DDL, learner autonomy. The authors demonstrate how newer technologies are not limited to the traditional implicit/explicit grammar teaching approaches and offer both learner-computer and person-to-person interactions.

3.2. Vocabulary learning

7Qing Ma offers an overview of the memory-based strategic model for vocabulary learning, explaining its implications for technology-mediated L2 vocabulary acquisition before proposing a framework to understand the mediation role of technologies in L2 vocabulary learning. Based on three perspectives i) the role of computer technologies, ii) the incidental/intentional approaches to vocabulary acquisition, and iii) technology-mediated lexical applications or tools, the framework can be adopted to categorize applications/tools intended for vocabulary learning, thus, aiding teachers to select and implement learning resources as well as choose the right technologies (page 57). Ma then gives an overview of ways in which mobile technologies mediate or assist vocabulary learning before underlining, with the rise in incidental and informal learning, the increasing need for learner training to make both computer-assisted and mobile-assisted vocabulary learning more efficient.

3.3. Teaching and learning L2 reading

8Meei-Ling Liaw and Kathryn English contribute the chapter on technologies for teaching and learning L2 reading. Following a synthesis of three perspectives that explain L2 reading processes (structural, cognitive, and metacognitive), the authors situate these perspectives with reference to technologies that add interactive and social dimensions to the processes. Readers are then offered an overview of the technologies most relevant to L2 reading. Whilst the range and quantity of applications discussed is impressive, the authors' categorization of these technologies under the headings of self-developed courses and commercial courseware, online activities with individual tools and mobile devices, and computer-mediated communication (CMC) make this part digestible. The chapter then offers a discussion of the challenges technologies pose to educators. These include the risk that technologies' interactive nature may lead to distracted readers, the danger that technological choices for L2 reading, rather than being pedagogically-oriented, may be socially and economically driven, and the need to extend L2 reading beyond the classroom. The authors highlight the need for educators to continuously learn the changing technologies and develop new visions for literacy. They conclude by detailing how ubiquitous learning, adaptive learning and personalisation, and autonomous learning may help L2 learners engage in independent, autonomous reading whilst aiding them to critically evaluate and co-construct text on the "globally-connected information super highway" (page 71).

3.4. L2 writing

9Turning to writing skills, Zhi Li, Ahmet Dursun, and Volker Hegelheimer offer a classification of technologies for L2 writing and select a few to illustrate the affordances of each: web 2.0 applications (Lang-8, Google Docs), automated writing evaluation systems (Criterion, Turnitin, Writing Pal), and corpus-based tools (COCA). The strength of this contribution is the synthesis of empirical research studies on the three technologies that the authors then present. The table format, presenting the studies' focus, context, research methods, and key findings will be of particular use to graduate students embarking on research projects in this area as a starting point for literature reviews. The chapter concludes with a pertinent discussion about the promising, but not yet widely-incorporated, technologies of learner analytics, keystroke logging and eye-tracking for L2 writing, a discussion about future research perspectives, and a reminder for practitioners not to underestimate the importance of learner training with regard to technologies adopted for L2 writing.

3.5. Listening skills

10The next chapter, on listening skills is contributed by Philip Hubbard. In contrast to the previous chapter, the focus is on the mediating characteristics and affordances of technologies that can support L2 learning (eg archiving and indexing, controlling time and time shifting, linking) with only rare examples to specific environments made; the author preferring to describe them in general terms with regard to their value for L2 listening. The discussion as to how technologies support comprehension, processing, and acquisition is, thus, structured around the categories of digital devices and networks, content, control, and help options (operational, regulatory, compensatory, explanatory help with reference to Cardenas-Claro's and Gruba's 2013 typology). A subsequent discussion looks at how SLA theory has been drawn upon to frame different research studies into L2 listening and the appropriate choice made to focus on Chapelle's 2003 interpretation of SLA theory and technology, Plass and Jones' multimedia learning model (2005) and Vandergrift and Goh's 2012 application of their metacognitive model of listening to technological environments. Hubbard then returns to Cardenas-Claro and Gruba's typology of help options to structure a sub-section on research studies in L2 listening and technology. The chapter concludes with a suggested future research agenda for the field. It underlines a need to explore i) the increasing use of mobile devices for incidental rather than intentional L2 listening, ii) the upward trend for content curation that involves the collection of enriched media for the learning, and iii) the potential of digital recording and subsequent analysis by L2 learners as a new source of feedback to learners.

3.6. L2 speaking

11Robert Blake's contribution focuses on L2 speaking. His introduction covers some of the fears that practitioners may voice when using technology to teach L2 speaking skills, including choosing a model of correct usage, the fear of including speaking practice that does not involve an instructor, and the difficulty in choosing CALL activities. The chapter's aim is, thus, to provide "a clearer idea of the rich array of contexts, tasks, and CALL tools that can be used to promote L2 speaking" (page 107). Blake, firstly, provides a comprehensive yet synthetic overview of some of the theoretical notions that underlie best practices in L2 teaching, choosing to focus on sociocultural theory, the interactionist hypothesis, autonomy and student agency, and cognitive perspectives as regards accuracy, complexity, and fluency. He then turns to task-based instruction as a pedagogical framework for speaking to discuss different CALL options with regard to tutorial call, whereby the students engage with prompts offered by the computer (eg feedback, computer-assisted pronunciation training, asynchronous CALL storytelling, digital sound tools) and CMC in which students engage in interactions with others mediated by the computer. Throughout the chapter, Blake systematically reminds readers that no single CALL speaking activity fits all but rather that L2 development requires a combination of "CALL tools and appropriate tasks in a variety of productive ways" (page 110). The short concluding section returns to this point.

3.7. Pragmatics and intercultural communicative competence

12In the final chapter in the Handbook's first section, Julie Sykes examines the ways in which technologies have expanded and complexified the teaching of pragmatics due to the multiplicity of language contact zones beyond traditional national language boundaries. As pragmatics is "inherently the place where language and culture meet" (page 119), she offers readers an overview of intercultural communicative competence before moving to an exploration of transnational languaculture, that proposes a paradigm in which language and culture transcend national boundaries, are uniquely tied to individuals, and develop over a lifetime as learners move through different contexts, locations, and languages. The chapter then turns to research studies related to technology and the teaching-learning of pragmatics, offering a well-balanced discussion of studies in the areas of technology-based instructional interventions, telecollaboration, and digital game-based approaches. The final section focuses on "cyberpragmatics" (Yus, 2010)–the role of pragmatics in the infinite number of discursive contexts available as a result of digitally-mediated communications–, illustrating how technology mediates multilingual online and face-to-face interactions. Examples discussed include the use of social networks and hashtags. Sykes' conclusion sets out a research and practice agenda for a field of technology-mediated teaching and learning that is in its adolescence and which carries "a certain level of irreverence and unwieldiness in its approaches" (page 129).

4. Innovation at the technology-pedagogy interface

13In the second section, each contribution adopts a different vantage point with regard to innovation, exploring the language and communication affordances of different technologies and illustrating how each technology creates new or transforms existing practices.

4.1. Distance language teaching

14The section opens with a chapter from Cynthia White on distance language teaching. She importantly situates her contribution within a historical perspective, reminding readers that the origins of distance learning precede digital technologies. Following a terminological discussion, White explores technologies, tools, and learning environments she esteems as the most influential to the field: CMC-based environments, audiographic and videoconferencing environments, learning management systems, telecollaboration, and web 2.0 tools. She then turns to the pedagogical issues of task design, assessment, and teacher expertise that are essential for quality distance education. Like other contributions, the chapter offers a potential research agenda before concluding with a discussion of some of the challenges faced by the distance language teaching field. These include the diversity of practices, the need for attention to learner support, the need to offer feedback on individual and collective activity, and the issues of accounting for affective aspects.

4.2. Blended learning

15The section then focuses on blended learning with a contribution from Maja Grgurović that presents a meta-analysis of research on the subject. The comprehensive introduction defines "blended learning" and discusses the terms with regard to hybrid learning. It contextualises the beginnings of blended learning research (2000-2005 period) and reports on research objectives linked to describing pedagogical models and/or implementation logistics. These are discussed with reference to the interests of those funding the research at that time. The reader will appreciate the manner in which the two-staged meta-analysis (2012, 2014) consistently refers back to the trends discussed in the introduction. Content analysis of 26 studies was performed and the author compares and contrasts results by focusing on the topics of comparative studies of non-blended and blended classes, teacher perceptions, learner perceptions, specific technology tools, and course implementation. Four themes emerge. Regarding theoretical background, whereas previous studies were missing theoretical conceptualisation, more recent studies are grounded in frameworks borrowed both from Applied Linguistics (knowledge framework from systemic functional linguistics, validity argument from language assessment), from other disciplines (actor-network theory from Education) and by frameworks developed by blended learning researchers. The meta-analysis suggests consistent findings with earlier research regarding the effectiveness and value of blended learning with no significant differences being found with non-blended contexts. The review highlights the need for teacher training regarding technological, curricular, and pedagogical changes and also underlines the need for learner training on both technological aspects and pedagogical strategies. The chapter concludes with a discussion of potential future trends for the area linked to mobile technologies and learning analytics.

4.3. Telecollaboration

16Melinda Dooly contributes the chapter on telecollaboration. Like Grgurović, she commences with a detailed discussion of its definition(s). Although the major part of this section refers to language learning, the discussion goes beyond language learning and refers to the spheres of education, workplace collaboration, and volunteer work. The discussion also takes into account the wide range of pedagogical underpinnings behind telecollaboration with regard to formal/informal learning settings, whilst acknowledging the "boundless constituents that can entail its configuration" (page 177). Dooly then gives a detailed historical overview of telecollaboration in language education. Starting out from collaborative practices in education from the 1900s, Dooly discusses reasons for the increased interest in and practice of telecollaboration as related to the availability of CMC technologies, an increased interest in intercultural competence, growing recognition of language learning as a sociocultural process, and a focus on developing skill sets for the workplace. She then explores different paradigms of the practice, focusing on the underlying theory of socioconstructivism, different typologies of task types, and telecollaboration as a means to develop learner autonomy. The reader will appreciate the depth and breadth of this contribution which, despite the number of different sources upon which Dooly draws, remains very reader-friendly. Dooly concludes by setting out a future research agenda. She argues that this should focus on the political and social implications of telecollaboration but also include microanalytical approaches that consider participants' perspectives.

4.4. Virtual worlds

17Virtual worlds are covered in the Handbook by Randall Sadler. Following a discussion of the characteristics that define virtual worlds and of the blurring in the distinction between social and gaming virtual worlds, Sadler turns to a history of these "new third spaces" (Steinkuehler & Williams, 2006, p. 184). He discusses how the concept of a world "that deceives the eye, and that exists as a reality for the viewers" (page 186) can be traced back to Plato's philosophical discussions before turning to more recent works that fictionalised the computer technology that was developing at the time. Sadler's historical perspective draws on the evolution of multi-user dungeons (MUDs) to object-oriented MUDs (MOOs), describing the lack of true graphical interfaces and the addition of voice chat. He then discusses virtual worlds that exist today and categorises some of the most popular with reference to age level, game level, socialisation level, education focus, and technical requirements. Readers will discover detailed descriptions of five virtual worlds which certainly will be helpful to practitioners looking to choose a specific virtual world environment. The second part of the chapter turns to research in virtual worlds and discusses the environments' potential in relation to enhanced collaboration amongst learners, the issue of anxiety, and their ability to expose learners via immersion to the "real world via the virtual environment" (page 197). Of particular interest, is Sadler's outlook for the future of virtual worlds which he describes as shifting towards artificial reality simulators for fully immersive experiences via the use of virtual reality glasses, tracking of head movements and orientation, and the inclusion of simultaneous translation.

4.5. Digital gaming in L2 teaching and learning

18The reference chapter for digital gaming in L2 teaching and learning is contributed by Johnathan Reinhardt. The introduction outlines arguments against games and demonstrates how rekindled interest in the area refutes these. Reinhardt then offers a survey of digital games in CALL, discussing historical perspectives as well as design and pedagogical approaches. This section is structured under the headings of educational games and the learning benefits, digital games in L2 teaching-learning, and game-based CALL applications. The reader is offered plentiful examples throughout. A more theoretical discussion follows based on the affordances of digital games. The author focuses on how digital games can serve as environments for peer and expert collaboration that lead to increased linguistic and cultural competence and the didactic qualities of non-educational games that may function as informal or implicit learning environments. A third section offers different lenses through which to interpret research on games in CALL: an area characterised by its theoretical and methodological diversity. Reinhardt suggests games can be understood metaphorically as tutors, tools, or ecologies; that research can be interpreted depending on a study's focus on a game genre or characteristic (eg game features such as feedback type), a specific game (eg World of Warcraft), or a specific game mechanic or behaviour (eg questing, building). The chapter concludes with a section that summarises different research perspectives–game-oriented research, player-learner oriented, and L2 pedagogy/instruction. Reinhardt emits a warning that future research should be communicated in terms that speak to a variety of stakeholders (including researchers, instructors, developers) in order to drive the field forward.

4.6. Mobile learning

19Mobile learning is addressed by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Helen Lee, and Lucy Norris. In this contribution, the authors focus on mobile technology's extension of learning beyond the classroom, exposing learners to the unexpected and demanding "new conceptualisations of what needs to be learned and new activity designs to promote learning" (page 217). Points of particular interest are the chapter's focus on balancing in-class and out-of-class learning via mobile data being captured then brought back into the classroom, the modal affordances of mobile learning, and frameworks to help practitioners adapt language teaching to mobile learning. Notably, the Pedagogical Framework offers a reflective tool for practitioners to consider how tasks can rely on teacher wisdom, language mobilities, language dynamics, and device features whilst also interconnecting the concepts of learning outcomes, rehearsal, inquiry, and reflection. Examples of tasks are given throughout and the visual summary of this framework is particularly effective. The authors systematically link to the need to view language as a dynamic, emergent phenomenon whilst also discussing how mobile learning can help meet learners' communication needs and interests as well as train workplace skills. While at the outset of the chapter, the authors seem to address uniquely the English language teaching field, examples of projects that involve less commonly-taught languages are later offered to readers. However, a discussion that is perhaps lacking in this contribution refers to the potential of mobile learning for low-tech contexts where there might be insufficient access to information communication technologies but rich access to mobile devices.

4.7. Technology for Task-Based Language Teaching

20Marta González-Lloret reports on technology for Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT), arguing that TBLT is "ideal for informing and fully realizing the potential of technological innovations for language learning" (page 234). After defining and outlining the principles of TBLT the author discusses the notion of technology-mediated tasks and their evolution from generic task types borrowed from researchers who investigated face-to-face TBLT to different frameworks that include the benefits for, but also beyond, language learning eg skills to use technology outside of class, interest in the L2 culture. This section stresses that the incorporation of technology is never neutral but rather the articulation of tasks and technology in a full curriculum requires technology to be part of the full programmatic cycle from needs analysis through to task selection, sequencing, implementation, and student assessment and course evaluation. Whilst research has proposed the components for such curricular innovation, fully-developed TBLT curricular implementations remain rare. González-Lloret then examines research on tasks and technology through three lenses: i) the effects of CMC on L2 interaction through tasks describing that these studies find CMC task-based interaction conducive to language learning but negotiation not as prevalent as in face-to-face interaction, ii) CMC studies that focus on which task types, with which characteristics, and under which conditions produce interactions conducive to language learning, focusing on task complexity and effects on L2 fluency, complexity and accuracy, and iii) studies that incorporate web 2.0 technologies and tasks, focusing on virtual spaces and written communication. The contribution closes by describing the challenges for technology-mediated TBLT including the need to move research foci towards investigating affordances of certain media rather than individual tools, the incorporation of technology in evaluation and assessment, and its incorporation as a target of instruction in order for learners to develop digital, multimodal and informational literacies. The author sees the research agenda as wide open, underlining unresolved issues in task research as including the task complexity debate, multimodality in technology-mediated TBLT, and the teachers' roles.

4.8. Corpus-based pedagogies used for teaching language for specific purposes

21Elena Cotos contributes a chapter on corpus-based pedagogies used for teaching language for specific purposes to the Handbook. She firstly defines corpora and describes how they can serve as reference resources to create language for specific purposes (LSP) materials. In this section, she focuses on the interest of concordancing tools and comparative analyses of native and learner corpora. Then, she turns to data-driven learning that engages students as analysts of corpora adopting tools and techniques used by corpus linguists. This approach is categorised according to three strands: bottom-up building on register analysis and the identification of lexico-grammatical patterns, top-down building on genre analysis and text organisation patterns, and the paired approach that establishes links between the prior two approaches. Cotos focuses on how indirect and direct corpus applications have been translated into CALL technologies giving examples of interactive reference tools that help corpora analysis to become more engaging, DDL tools that enhance students' exploration of corpora, and feedback tools that draw on natural language processing to scaffold learning with just-in time feedback. These three tool types and their interest for LSP are drawn together in a case study of Research Writing Tutor (Iowa State University, n.d.) in which different modules provide LSP teachers with "attested examples of specialized language use and with a platform for developing tasks responsive to students' needs" (page 259). The chapter closes with an outline of the role of corpus linguistics in the future advancement of LSP and underlines the need for different visualisations of corpora results and multimodal corpora.

4.9. New literacies

22The subject of new literacies is addressed by Paige Ware. She begins her contribution by returning to the origins and theoretical basis of new literacies focusing on Warschauer's introduction of the term "electronic literacies" composed of computer, information, multimedia and CMC literacies, from an applied linguistics viewpoint, and the multiliteracies framework advanced by the New London Group in the field now known as New Literacy Studies. Ware then outlines the affordances of new literacies created by new technologies and comprised of wide-ranging literacy practices and the semiotic systems and social contexts in which they occur. A summary of the main areas of research conducted on new literacies is then presented. Ware firstly introduces different lenses through which these practices can be seen as waves, contexts, and conceptual frameworks of learning, change, and power. Her review of the research concentrates on four foci: i) texts themselves as the primary focus describing the shift from language-centric to multimodal genres, ii) individuals as the unit of analysis and identity studies in which individuals leverage multiple semiotic resources through new media, iii) case studies of how teachers have tried to leverage the positive relationship with their L2 developed in out-of-school settings by drawing on new literacy practices to enhance learning processes, particularly referencing studies that explore writing instruction using blogs and wikis, and iv) connected contexts that link classrooms and communities and studies that focus on intercultural literacy practices and the goal of literacy as a site for "cultural citizenship" (page 271). The last section of the chapter turns to the challenges of the new literacies landscape and offers an in-depth discussion of the differential access to technology–both the tools themselves and the uses of technology–and whether technology "helps exacerbate pre-existing differences, or whether it merely amplifies them" (page 272) as well as concerns surrounding assessment, including defining what core competencies and skills entail and feasibly measuring these. In her conclusion, Ware calls for cross-disciplinary work and a focus on methodology to redefine definitions of new literacies and conceptualize them in ways that allow for more nuanced understanding.

4.10. Language teacher education and technology

23The second section of the Handbook closes with a chapter on language teacher education and technology, a theme that emerges in many of the previous chapters' concluding sections. Greg Kessler and Philip Hubbard firstly offer a historical perspective of the emergence of CALL in teacher education; from isolated practices to the emergence of workshops and CALL classes, the publication of research journal special issues and professional organisations, then later teacher education special interest groups and the elaboration of benchmark standards. The colleagues then give an overview of studies into CALL teacher education underlining the need for teachers to evaluate technology for L2 learning, recognize emerging technologies and align their integration with pedagogical objectives. They then hone in on the need to train teachers with regard to the affordances technologies offer to provide learners with assessment of their learning, particularly with regard to automated writing and speaking evaluation, digital feedback, and access to authentic language. Readers will then appreciate an extensive discussion on the challenges CALL teacher education faces. Firstly, the need to prepare teachers for change as technology can rapidly introduce new classroom techniques such as mobile-assisted learning or course configurations, including hybrid or distance instruction. Secondly, preparation for the inclusion of interactive materials such as online games or tutors and tools created by natural language processing (NLP) technologies. Thirdly, the social nature of communication and learning that offers, often through social networking tools, the potential for collaborative activities, tasks, and materials. Finally, the challenge of normalisation whereby CALL will become fully integrated and transparent within L2 pedagogy. The chapter concludes with a reminder that teacher education in CALL needs to account both for global trends in the field and the local characteristics that define the educational institution, instructor, or curriculum.

5. Technology for L2 assessment

24The third section is dedicated to understanding how technology has expanded the options for second language assessment with reference to test development, administration, and validity.

5.1. Low-stakes assessment design

25The first contribution by Joan Jamieson and Matteo Musumeci adopts a different approach to the previous Handbook chapters. Rather than offer an overview of an area in the field, it provides a detailed study of low-stakes assessment design, firstly regarding language-learning programmes' online assessment, and secondly, popular higher education language textbooks' online assessment. For each, the authors adopted a four-step methodology (examining the contents of one introductory unit for linguistic abilities and context, examining the assessment to determine a degree of match between the learning material and the assessment content, determining question types and response types that would aid learners notice their gaps, and analysing the score report and information it contained). This allowed them to address three research questions: was the content in the text/materials adequately covered? Was the information given in response to wrong answers helpful to the student? Would the score information help a student and his/her teacher to address strengths and weaknesses? The study's results show that assessments that covered online programs and textbooks covered the same content and required information recall rather than extension. Few of the assessments reviewed gave students information about their incorrect answers but almost all provided percentage correct scores and score sheets that allow instructors to add qualitative comments. The authors conclude that low-stakes assessment should be designed to offer more detailed and individualised feedback and should include score reports that suggest additional resources to explore.

5.2. High-stakes language testing and technology

26High-stakes language testing and technology is covered by Johnathan E. Schmidgall and Donald E. Powers. The colleagues firstly define high-stakes testing as "influencing a decision that may be life-changing" (page 317) for the testee and describe how developers are expected to provide evidence of test scores consistency and reliability (development), the validity of scoring, and the adequacy of testing system's security procedures. Following a discussion of the opportunities and challenges of computer-based over paper-based testing in these three stages, the impact of technology on each test-development stage is then the focus of a sub-section. Regarding test development and administration in a digital environment, whilst expressing caution regarding the need to take into account testees' digital literacy, the authors highlight ways in which i) the collection of systematic monitoring evidence may be facilitated through the collection of evidence to show that specifications were implemented as designed, ii) the level of standardization may be increased across test-takers when multimedia materials are employed and with regard to the test-taking environment, and iii) how technology aids the implementation of computer-adaptive and self-adaptive procedures. Scoring is then discussed in light of tests that entail constructed responses and automated scoring systems. The discussion on how technology can facilitate test-rater calibration is of particular interest as is the section that focuses on the need for frameworks to help ensure valid interpretations of scores. In the section on "security", the authors firstly describe why high-stakes testing must consider inappropriate test-taking behaviour and focus on different domains in which cheating may occur as well as its characteristics as high versus low tech and individual versus collaborative. The section is well-balanced describing how technology can facilitate cheating whilst also prevent and detect it. The chapter concludes with a discussion of key areas for future research focusing on the evolutions in terms of test input types with respect to multimodal input and virtual reality devices, the flexibility offered regarding the delivery of richer task input that will allow test stimuli to be better aligned with combined skills real-world tasks, and the need to account for the fact that real-world communication tasks increasingly make use of digital tools.

5.3. Argument-based approaches to validation

27The section on technology and language tests closes with a chapter contributed by Yoo-Ree Chung that focuses on argument-based approaches to validation. After a definition of validation as "the process of evaluating the adequacy of the interpretations made on the basis of test scores and the uses of the test scores for a particular purpose" (page 332), Chung offers readers an overview of the argument framework before turning to its relevance to technology-assisted language testing. The chapter delves into the multiple layers of considerations that technology use brings to the validity of testing when used for delivery and scoring. She goes through different aspects of score interpretation and use in language assessment to describe the reasons to include technology in this aspect and to identify the issues that emerge. She focuses in detail on the relevance of test tasks, language characteristics, appropriate and fair observation of test performance, consistency of testees' test performance, consistency with performance observed in the target domain, short and long-term consequences for diverse groups of stakeholders of test scores. In her conclusion, Chung stresses the need for iterative validation processes.

6. Research and development of technology for language learning

28Research and development practices that have been instrumental in creating and disseminating innovations and that are considered best use of technologies for language learning are addressed in the fourth section.

6.1. Authoring language-learning courseware

29Robert Godwin-Jones opens the section with a chapter on authoring language-learning courseware covering both programmes used for self-study and those integrated into teacher-led courses. He begins by discussing courseware's place at the core of early CALL during the 1960s describing the advantages and challenges for language teachers of the PLATO system, the TUTOR and BASIC programming languages and the authoring system CALIS. Goodwin-Jones then moves to the personal computer revolution that allowed teachers to develop their own courseware on PCs through the availability of authoring tools such as CALIS, HyperCard, and Authorware discussing for each their different affordances. After reviewing multimedia courseware that required a move from individual developers to development teams and a distinct need to address pedagogical design questions, Godwin-Jones turns to the development of intelligent language tutors (ILTs) for which the design is based on user profiles and that offer individualised feedback. E-Tutor is presented as a detailed case study to discuss the affordances and complexities of designing ILTs. The final sections of the chapter focus on commercial courseware, open educational resources, and web-delivered courseware, with a particular focus on the web authoring software HTML 5 and its distinctive features for language-learning applications. The chapter drives home the extent to which courseware has developed from standalone, discrete exercises for specific language skills to technologies that offer customised interactions, personalised to the learner, and that are incorporated into rich web- or mobile-based environments. The chapter leads well into the next contribution by Julio Rodríguez on design-based research (DBR).

6.2. Design-Based Research

30Design-based research is described by Julio Rodríguez as an "untapped" area in CALL with potential to "provide a principled approach to integrating research and practice" (page 374) both at a macro-level to analyse and improve technology integration on a program level and also at a micro-level to design innovative learning experiences by helping researchers and practitioners collaborate towards a common goal. Rodríguez begins his contribution by outlining the origins of DBR in the 1990s and summarising the major publications in the field of instructional technology and CALL. He then provides an extensive definition of DBR discussing in turn each of its seven characteristics: dual goal, synergy between design and research processes, iteration, methodological pluralism, intervention, exploration and collaboration. Each characteristic is illustrated with examples from CALL research. After describing the expected outputs of DBR, the author delves into the potential of DBR in CALL focusing, in particular, on its potential for the areas of materials development whereby CALL materials would become the "locus rather than the object of research" (page 371) and professional development whereby instructors, rather than be passive agents, would be involved in two meaningful ways: "in an externally referenced and in a self-generating fashion" (page 372). The final section of the chapter discusses some of the challenges of DBR, including the difficulties of cross-design comparison, the need to create common DBR data repositories to enable sharing and collaborative analyses, and issues related to validity and reliability.

6.3. Evaluation of technology and language learning

31Carol Chapelle then contributes a chapter on the evaluation of technology and language learning. In her introduction, she examines ways in which the evaluation of technology has been defined in the literature as being driven by decision-making questions or the need to make a decision about a particular choice of software for a given setting. Chapelle prefers to offer a perspective on technology evaluation that centres around five types of argument, all which appear in the professional literature to support claims about technology and language learning, in order to account for "the core idea of the context-specificity of evaluation arguments" whilst also considering the "broader audience for the evaluation, as well, that is, the profession" (page 389). For each, she offers a definition, examples of studies which adopt this argument, and a discussion of the nature of the argument and the considerations needed when adopting such a viewpoint to evaluate claims about technology and language learning. Comparative arguments are based on quantitative research comparing students' learning outcomes from CALL to those involved in classroom instruction. Authenticity arguments support claims that language-learning tasks are of value because they require the use of technologies that students use for their everyday practices. A corpus linguistic argument underlies claims that access to large sets of linguistic data enables learners to solve their learning problems independently, raises awareness of linguistic generalisations and helps learners find and test models. Theory-based arguments provide "support for claims about learning outcomes and the value of particular types of learning processes that students engage in through technology use" (page 384). Pedagogy-based arguments support claims about the value of technology-mediated learning with regard to pedagogical requirements. Analysing these five different types of arguments, Chapelle argues for the need to be explicit about the type of argument adopted in order to better understand and improve evaluation practices because the argument perspective has implications for how evaluation can be "planned, communicated to others and interpreted" (page 387). This will allow the field to go beyond a decision-driven approach to technology evaluation and rather allow for a better understanding of the claims and arguments for the evaluation which, in turn, will develop knowledge about genres of technology use.

6.4. Research methods for investigating technology for language and culture learning

32Research methods for investigating technology for language and culture learning are addressed by Dorothy Chun. Addressing, firstly, the topics of vocabulary and grammar, reading and writing, listening and speaking, and pragmatics and intercultural competence before turning to "newer" technological environments (eg mobile assisted language learning, telecollaboration, gaming), Chun explores the methodologies of selected studies that are highly-cited and/or considered seminal or influential, and where available meta-studies, to demonstrate how appropriately-chosen methodologies contribute to extending the field's knowledge of how technologies contribute to languaculture learning (cf. Agar, 1994). This allows her to demonstrate that the choice of methodology for CALL (that she adopts as referring to "Computer-Assisted Languageculture Learning") research studies depends on the aspect of languaculture being learnt, the theory of learning considered appropriate, the technologies employed in the pedagogical situation, and the technologies available for conducting the research protocol and analysing the research data. The overview allows Chun to conclude that CALL is still following the general trend of "employing quantitative and/or qualitative methods as appropriate to the theoretical perspective taken" (page 404) but, with the social turn in SLA, qualitative studies, ethnographic methods and action research are being adopted. While insisting that the learning theories that underlie a CALL research study combined with the chosen methodology influence both the research questions addressed and the results obtained, Chun argues for the need to triangulate data, citing studies for example that adopt simulated recall or eye-tracking technology, to better understand the ecology of the learning environment. She concludes that with technology "normalization" (Bax, 2003) colleagues in the field have access to new technologies for teaching and for research and that these will need to be exploited to contribute to CALL research endeavours.

6.5. CALL meta-analyses and transparency analysis

33Hsien-Chin Liou and Hui-Fen Lin address CALL meta-analyses and transparency analysis. Following an introduction to meta-analysis as a tool for systematic research synthesis, the authors present the procedure for conducting meta-analyses, illustrating and discussing each step in light of CALL meta-analysis examples. The authors then investigate the rigour of meta-analyses in the CALL field by conducting a transparency study of 13 CALL meta-analytic reports published between 2003 and 2015. A detailed description is given of their coding categories and processes using a 17-item evaluation rubric. The investigation demonstrates that whilst the majority of studies provided clear research questions, one third embedded these questions into the report's purpose statement. All studies reported information on how they searched for eligible studies. Whilst more than 60% included unpublished studies and dissertations, book and book chapters were seldom included with journal studies being the major type of study reported upon: the studies relied heavily on electronic databases. Concerning methods, the vast majority of studies reported on independent and dependent variables but the authors argue that this section needs the most improvement. Indeed, only one-third of the studies provided operational definitions for these and inter-rater coding and reporting on inconsistent or invalid coding was rare. Liou and Lin analysed whether the CALL meta-analyses developed greater rigor as publication year increased but no clear relationship between publication year and transparency score was shown. The contribution stresses some of the pitfalls that CALL meta-analyses should avoid in the future and concludes by highlighting the need for replication studies in this area.

6.6. Researching technology-mediated multimodal interaction

34Researching technology-mediated multimodal interaction is discussed by Thierry Chanier and Marie-Noëlle Lamy in the penultimate contribution. The introduction points readers to different sources that provide a starting point for the investigation of computer-mediated interactive language learning (CMILL) before describing, and illustrating through a range of examples, modality as a set of relationships between communication modes "accessed and manipulated with tools to carry out certain learning objectives" (page 429). Multimodality is thus explained as the complex relationship that develops between these aspects when co-deployed. A schematic diagram illustrating the notion of mediation helps readers understand how these three components intersect in online multimodality. The second section describes how research on multimodality in online learning addresses two questions: what aspect of learning is mediated through technology and how is the learning situation experienced. Chanier and Lamy explain why these two lines of research are essential to better understand CMILL and synthesise studies that have explored these questions. They underline that the latter are generally underpinned by either technoliteracy frameworks or semiotic theories and argue that future studies need to better identify the theoretical basis underpinning the work. The chapter then turns to different methodological issues related to the development of CMILL research. Chanier and Lamy advocate for a corpus-based approach to respond to the scientific criteria of validity and reliability. The challenges of multimodal transcription are discussed in light of the need to develop standards for transcription and schemas for classifying and analysing different types of multimodal data in order to ensure that research is interpretable and indeed interoperable across different projects.

6.7. Technology-enhanced Second Language Acquisition research

35The final chapter in the fourth part of the Handbook, by Bryan Smith, focuses on technology-enhanced second language acquisition research. Smith firstly gives definitions of SLA, instructed SLA, and SLA Research before describing three theoretical frameworks that are compatible with CALL inquiry and prominent in CALL research: cognitive approaches to SLA, the interaction approach, and sociocultural theory. After summarising each approach, Smith examines how we can define SLA-relevant research in CALL proposing four parameters: i) Is this study a CALL study? ii) Is the CALL study firmly grounded in an identifiable SLA theoretical framework? iii) Does the study examine key assumptions, constructs, hypotheses and so on, which are relevant to this theoretical framework for SLA? iv) Does the study explicitly or implicitly investigate some aspect of the argued affordances of CALL environments for SLA? For three SLA-relevant CALL studies, each of which adopts a different approach to SLA (Payne & Whitney, 2002; Smith & Renaud, 2013; Rama et al., 2012), Smith illustrates how each accounts for the above parameters. The second part of his contribution addresses data in SLA-relevant CALL research and focuses on ways in which computer technologies offer multiple modality methods for data collection, including the possibility to capture learner process data and track learner behaviour with regard to human-computer interactions and human-human interactions. A final section addresses eye-tracking technologies to explore instructed SLA in CALL environments. Smith's conclusion describes a certain confluence between instructed SLA research and SLA-relevant CALL research which he describes as potentially offering the building blocks to the development of a CALL theory.

7. Language study today as langua-technoculture (with Star Trek as an unexpected reference)

36The editors in the final chapter bring together themes that emerge from the different contributions with the Handbook and offer their perspectives upon ways in which future technological advancements, alongside research input, will continue to shape language teaching and learning. Their first section is organised around three central themes that emerge from the different contributions to the Handbook: the multimodal nature of the language abilities that need to be taught and investigated in order to engage with the technology-mediated contexts in which learners communicate and learn; the need for teacher education that will help educators adapt and account for the continuous pedagogical innovations that are being introduced as a result of the different affordances provided by technology; and the need to strengthen the research base whilst ensuring that research is integral to teaching and learning. The editors offer a discussion of each and establish links between the different contributions, all under headings that make inferences to the sci-fi series Star Trek! The second section examines L2 teaching and learning issues for the future and emphasises the need to account for the diverse range of contexts and populations in which technology is mediating language learning, identify the range of different "langua-technocultural" (page 467) knowledge, skills, and strategies needed by learners, and devise technology-mediated tasks that draw upon these as well as further them. The authors underline that "the affordances and perceived affordances of language-learning technologies represent a crucial direction for researchers and practitioners to consider" (page 469) and throughout the chapter depict the possibilities for continuing enthusiasm for innovation in the field.

8. Overall remarks

37This timely volume offers non-specialised readers an in-depth, authoritative, reference work. Its strengths lie, firstly, in its ability to render the research-practice interface central throughout the volume: all contributions are theoretically grounded yet offer detailed pedagogical commentary. Secondly, the volume's ability to link different timescales must be underlined. All contributions are situated within a historical context, summarise current issues in the area and discuss future perspectives both from research, technology development, and teaching perspectives.

38While the Handbook is unarguably international, with chapters written by leading international scholars, a slight leaning towards English language teaching is felt. Indeed, there is an unfortunate slip in the concluding chapter which describes the "changing landscape of English language teaching and learning" (page 459) whilst the discussions of the important advances in technologies that have resulted in fundamental changes in language teaching and learning hold true for, if not all, indeed a wider range of vernacular languages. This is certainly a challenge within the TELL language field (see Chanier, 2013; Uzunboylu & Ozcinar, 2009). Including more case studies that focus on languages other than English would help to redress the balance. For example, other L2 corpora examples in the corpus-based tool sub-section of Li, Dursun, and Hegelheimer's contribution on writing skills would move the sole focus away from the Corpus of Contemporary American English. Alternatively, a specific chapter on less-commonly taught languages may also have enhanced the volume, particularly as the maturation in digital technology and the Internet have benefited these languages with the availability of materials for specifically pedagogical input (with potential links to the Cotos' corpus-based pedagogy contribution) and the ability to use raw web materials for self-instruction (Robin, 2013).

39Another point which might throw the reader is the inconsistency between some chapters arguing that platforms and tools should be presented in terms of their characteristics and affordances (for example, Philip Hubbard's contribution on L2 listening) whilst others present the individual tools themselves (for example, Randall Sadler's chapter on Virtual Worlds). Given the rapid pace at which technologies and platforms change, the presentation of technologies with regard to affordances would perhaps be more relevant than the detailed descriptions of specific platforms that are offered, particularly when some are not open-source. This comment does not take away, however, from the interest of the Handbook and, indeed, it is perhaps only noticeable upon its linear reading due to the different approaches being adopted in chapters that are juxta positioned.

40It is also surprising in such a comprehensive overview, not to see a chapter specifically dedicated to translation and technology, as was offered in Farr & Murray (2016) or indeed more mentions to this area. For example, Dooly's contribution on telecollaboration could have referenced speech recognition and translation that is now offered on certain videoconferencing platforms and which could offer new potential for intercultural exchanges in which speakers communicate orally in their mother tongue (cf. Miriadi project, Garbarino, 2015) or indeed scaffolding for language learners at beginner levels. Additionally, Godwin-Jones in describing web delivered courseware could have included a reference to the work being conducted on spoken translation games.

41A final gripe is the somewhat repetitive use of the adjectives "successful" and "effective" with regard to L2 learning throughout the Handbook without contributors clearly defining what they place behind these terms. As Blake states in his contribution on L2 speaking, "SLA theory is a long way from providing precise definitions for even such basic concepts as speaking proficiency" (page 114) and therefore a certain precaution could have been taken regarding the use of these adjectives. On a more global level, a list of abbreviations and a glossary would prove useful to readers for key terms employed throughout the volume.

42The above remarks, however, do not overshadow the major contribution that The Handbook of Technology and Second Language Teaching and Learning makes to Applied Linguistics literature. As a reference text, it offers a very holistic view of the current technology-enhanced language learning field that renders the research-practice interface central and analyses the multifaceted new dimensions that technology has added to teaching and learning. The historical backdrop is not forgotten in a volume that ultimately documents the diversity which will no doubt continue to characterize the field in the future.

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Ciara R. Wigham, « Review of The Handbook of Technology and Second Language Teaching and Learning »Alsic [En ligne], Vol. 23, n° 1 | 2020, mis en ligne le 13 septembre 2020, consulté le 21 mai 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Ciara R. Wigham

Ciara R. Wigham is a senior lecturer in English and applied linguistics at Université Clermont Auvergne and a member of the Acté research unit (Activité, Connaissances, Transmission, Education). Her research explores multimodal pedagogical communication within online learning environments and methodologies to structure multimodal CMC corpora.
Affiliation: université Clermont Auvergne and Laboratoire Acté.
Address: Université Clermont Auvergne–Institut National Supérieur du Professorat et de l’Éducation, 36 avenue Jean-Jaurès, CS 20001–63407 Chamalières Cedex, France.

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